More people returning from Kosovo to FYR of Macedonia: UN refugee agency

More people returning from Kosovo to FYR of Macedonia: UN refugee agency

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported today that many people have continued to return to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from Kosovo over the past three days, although the pace of the movements slowed down yesterday.

"Obviously the developments on the ground have frightened people off," said UNHCR spokesperson Astrid van Genderen Stort at a press briefing today in Pristina. "Many are thinking twice before returning and waiting for better days.

Since the beginning of the conflict, more than 78,000 people have arrived in Kosovo from the FYR of Macedonia, while approximately 24,000 of that number have returned back, leaving about 54,000 refugees in Kosovo, Ms. van Genderen Stort said.

In other news, UNHCR remains "extremely concerned" that, more two years after the entry of the international community in Kosovo, there was still no freedom of movement for most of the province's minority inhabitants. "There is no guarantee of security for any non-Albanian and attacks on completely innocent members of the minority population continue," Ms. van Genderen Stort told the press. "Just looking through the police reports of the past month - arson, shooting incidents, assaults directed at members of the Serbian, RAE, Bosniak and Gorani communities continue to happen on a daily basis. The return of all communities to Kosovo is being hampered by these incidents, and so is the creation of a multi-ethnic society that strives to achieve an autonomous status."

According to the spokesperson, UNHCR focuses on the improvement of living conditions in order to allow members of all ethnic communities to return to their homes. "Displacement is a status no one prefers to be in," she said. "It is the responsibility of all people of Kosovo to ensure a secure environment for themselves and for others and allow others to return in safety and dignity."